As covered in previous Bulletins, White Cane Day is celebrated each year on October 15th to recognize the accomplishments of people who are blind or visually impaired along with the white cane as a tool of independence and of blindness. Since 1964, U.S. presidents have issued a proclamation in honor of White Cane Day and, in 2011, it also became known as Blind Americans Equality Day. White Cane Day events are being held across the nation to mark the occasion. Here are two that are available virtually (in addition to those already mentioned in recent Bulletins):
Tonight, October 14, 2022, at 7 p.m. ET (10 am on October 15, 2022 in Australia), celebrate International White Cane Day at WhiteStickFest. This free, virtual concert features more than 20 musical performers, including artists who are blind, have low vision, or are sighted and come from across the world. Among the musicians: Blind Joe, a country singer and “charismatic stage presence” from the U.S.; Connor Wink, singer, acoustic guitar player, and Disability Pride Festival performer from Australia; and Cobhams Asuquo, internationally renowned singer-songwriter and UNICEF Ambassador from Nigeria, to name a few. WhiteStickFest is presented in partnership with the Foundation Fighting Blindness. For more information, visit WHITESTICKFEST: Celebrating International White Cane Day-15th October 2022. To join in the event live, go to the Facebook event link or tune in at WhiteStickFest.org.
Tomorrow, October 15, 2022 at 5 pm ET, the Annual White Cane Safety Day program will be presented by the Downstate New York ADAPT Transportation Equity Working Group and Accessibility Working Group. Those participating will learn about the history of the white cane, significance of this designated day, as well as how people use a white cane to lead an independent life. To register, visit the Zoom link for White Cane Safety Day.
For more background information on White Cane Day/Blind Americans Equality Day, visit the Wikipedia page on White Cane Safety Day.
Happy White Cane Day!
In retaining workers across the employment spectrum, including those with disabilities, performance coaching and management are an important component. With effective performance management, employees can better understand their job duties and move ahead in their careers. In recognizing National Disabilities Employment Awareness (NDEAM), EARN (the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion) is holding a webinar on October 19, 2022 from 2 to 3 pm ET to help employers and managers “make disability part of the equity equation by learning how to ensure that workers with disabilities can succeed on the job.” While performance management benefits the ongoing work and development of new skills of employees, some managers may feel uncomfortable or fear they are in violation of disability-related laws or regulations and may not be having productive conversations with those with disabilities or health conditions. A panel of experts in the field of Human Resources will share strategies that are effective for managers to use to assist, empower, and have fruitful coaching and performance dialogues. Topics being covered range from how to address performance concerns when you know or suspect an employee has a disability to ensuring that individuals with disabilities are not “unfairly disadvantaged” in the performance appraisal and development process to how coaching and effective performance management can result in improved employee engagement and retention outcomes and more. Find out additional information and register here for the webinar on Retaining Valued Employees with Disabilities: The Importance of Performance Coaching and Management.
The Prevention of Blindness Society of Metropolitan Washington (POB) and Washington National Eye Center at MedStar Washington Hospital Center invite participation in a virtual exhibition of low vision aids and devices on October 22, 2022 from 12 to 1 pm ET. Join in this free event and hear from vendors who will demonstrate their products and applications. “Each person is different, so this exhibition is an excellent chance to learn about the aids that may be useful for you!” To find out more, visit the POB webpage on the Low Vision Devices and Resources Exhibition. To register, call the POB Low Vision Resource and Information Hotline at (301) 951-4444 at least 24 hours before the event.
by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern
The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) Connect Center and NSITE have released an “on-demand Job Seeker’s Toolkit for career-ready blind and low-vision individuals.” The toolkit, a free, accessible, self-paced online course, consists of five hour-long sessions designed to train students and job-seekers on various parts of the hiring process. The sessions include: self-awareness, career exploration tools and resources, the preliminary employment process, the interview, and maintaining employment. Through this resource, APH and NSITE seek to “help bring employment resources to a habitually underserved demographic in the way that works best for them.” APH ConnectCenter Director Olaya Landa-Vialard stated: “We have an entire resource library of tools for blind and low vision adults including bringing the Job Seeker’s Toolkit to those who are seeking jobs today. Working with NSITE’s team, APH CareerConnect is able to best engage and bring the Job Seeker’s Toolkit to a larger audience and in a format for today’s learning style, whenever and wherever the candidate is in their job search.” NSITE Executive Director Jonathan Lucus added: “NSITE offers workforce training and development programs and a NSITE Connect job board specifically for blind and low vision individuals. By collaborating with APH’s team …, we can ensure that talented people with blindness or low vision, have equal access to jobs in today’s competitive work environment.” You can find out more about the toolkit in the press release: APH ConnectCenter and NSITE Deliver Resources and Access to Job Opportunities to Create a Diverse and Inclusive Workforce for Job Seekers.
by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has released a Digital Inclusion Toolkit, a collection of free resources for school administrators, teachers, families, and students. These resources focus primarily on how students with vision loss can best interact with classroom digital learning tools, almost all of which the AFB found to be inaccessible. Specific technology challenges cited included such barriers as videos lacking text descriptions; devices, like Chromebooks, where screens are too small for the student with low vision; and programs that need to be controlled by a mouse rather than a keyboard. The toolkit stems from a June 2022 AFB report, the third in a series studying the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on learning outcomes for students who are blind and visually impaired. Among other statistics from the study: “Nearly 60% of educators reported that their blind and low vision students could not access at least one classroom digital learning tool.” The resources are organized into several sections, including “planning tools for educators and administrators; information and resources for families and students with visual impairments that are designed to help them connect with others; advocacy tips; and lists of support organizations, hotlines, and other helpful resources.” You can read more about these toolkits in the press release: American Foundation for the Blind Announces Free Digital Inclusion Toolkits for School Administrators, Teachers, Families, and Students. The press release and the main toolkit page contain links to the entire list of resources as well as to the specific toolkit for each target audience.
by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern
To ensure that new developments in AI (artificial intelligence) protect the rights of Americans in diverse communities, The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has released a blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights. As stated in the introduction to the blueprint, inappropriate or biased use of technology such as algorithms serving patient care systems and making hiring and credit decisions, as well as rampant data collection, prove to be “among the great challenges posed to democracy today.” To combat this, the blueprint presents five principles: Safe and Effective Systems; Algorithmic Discrimination Protections; Data Privacy; Notice and Explanation; and Human Alternatives, Consideration, and Fallback. In keeping with the blueprint’s specified protections for people with disabilities, the Partnership for Employment and Accessible Technology (PEAT), led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), has produced the AI and Disability Inclusion Toolkit for “implementing equitable AI in the workplace.” The Toolkit defines equitable AI as “AI technologies that humans intentionally design, develop, and implement to result in more equitable outcomes for everyone, including people with disabilities.” Among the toolkit’s many resources is the Equitable AI Playbook, developed to help people make a case for implementing equitable AI in their organization. You can find out much more about equitable AI by reading the links above, as well as the blueprint’s fact sheet and the Department of Labor’s blog post on What the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights Means for Workers.
by Daniel Parker, RDPFS Intern
Even for those people with vision loss who are not particularly athletic, tandem cycling is a popular pastime. It involves two people riding a tandem bicycle, which is basically two bicycles mounted on one long frame. The blind person sits on the back of the bike, with their handlebars locked in place, as they play no part in steering. The person in this position is known as the stoker. The front person, called the captain or pilot, is responsible for steering as well as calling out directions and instructions to the stoker. The tandem community is served by many organizations and clubs on the local and national level. Tandem is covered by the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), whose tandem website covers several aspects of the sport, including an annual training camp held at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. Readers familiar with this Bulletin’s coverage of Camp Abilities may be aware that the camp has provided tandem instruction for several years. In addition, the Tandem Club of America, founded in 1976, is a forum for tandem enthusiasts across the country to connect and share tips, experiences, and more. The Club publishes the DoubleTalk blog and maintains a comprehensive resources page with lists of builders, dealers, state clubs, and general maintenance tips, among others. An example of a local organization is InTandem Bike in New York City, which holds evening and weekend rides in Central Park, participates in the city’s Five-Borough Bike Tour, and convenes bigger events such as a planned 2023 ride across the Mario Cuomo Bridge. Bicycling Blind also has a list of organizations by state, and Tandem Cycle Works hosts a tandem events page discussing noteworthy and interesting tandem tours in the U.S. and destinations around the world.
As we gear up for the cooler weather and upcoming holiday season, grocery shopping and cooking often are high on the list of tasks to tackle. Following are workshops from Hadley that can be helpful:
With some pointers and planning, shoppers with vision loss can find products and “check out smoothly” at the supermarket or grocery with the Grocery Shopping Series, featuring workshops on “Planning Ahead and “At the Store.” Among the tips:
- Create a list in bold, large print or by using an audio device, such as a smartphone or digital assistant, like Alexa on the Amazon Echo, or by writing the list in braille;
- If others in the household are providing input, ask them to write in bold, large print, or via other formats as well;
- Shop with an assistant, either a friend who accompanies the shopper or a store employee.
No matter the level of vision, cooks can continue approaching everyday kitchen tasks in the Cooking Series. Workshops cover such topics as "Kitchen Safety Basics," "Measuring Dry Ingredients," and "Pouring." A few tips include:
- Good lighting is helpful. Lighting under top cabinets brightens the countertops and working surfaces;
- Use of contrast helps to make it easier to see. For example, when cutting vegetables and other food items, have dark and white cutting boards or use a two-sided board with white and black sides. Similarly, use a different color tray from cups or bowls (i.e., dark and light colors to differentiate).
- For measuring and pouring ingredients, look for measuring cups and spoons with braille, tactile, or large-print numbers.
For more information and tips, check out the Hadley Grocery Shopping Series and the Cooking Series.
Cooking Series Now Available in Spanish
The National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NEI) is partnering with Hadley to begin to offer resources in Spanish. The first offering of the cooking series, with other titles to be added. Click here for the landing page for "Serie sobre cocinar:" Once on the page, selecting the “Inscríbase” button will trigger a sign up process in Spanish as well as a notification when more offerings in Spanish are available.
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